The Academy of Urbanism is well used to reporting on the innovations that bring about an urban renaissance. In an article by Katy Hawkins the Academy now looks at participatory budgeting (PB) in the USA, the UK and more widely.
Following exciting developments in PB in Paris, where PB is being used to spend €426m between 2015 and 2020, and the example of New York, with over $24m spent in 2014/15 and more likely to come, we seem to be on a cusp of PB being recognised as a significant contributor to urban planning. Even though in the UK its still often small scale, such as Coventry’s recent section 106 funded PB programme.
PB was included in its Spring journal under the title "community X-Factor or civic pedagogy?" and the article has now gone online for all to read for free. Katy spoke to Jez Hall of PBPartners, to Giovanni Allegretti of the University of Coimbre (and a renowned international PB expert) and to Maria Hadden, head of the Chicago division of USA based Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP).
Maria Hadden praises the inclusive nature of the process. “Participatory budgeting enables those who cannot participate in regular elections because of barriers like age or legal status to exercise a key component of our civic culture by making informed decisions to improve their communities,”
Furthermore, Jez Hall believes the very act of a community congregating together in a common space, in which they are made to listen to one another’s proposals and enter into a dialogue, works to build consensus and social capital … increasing understanding and in triggering unplanned collaborations.
And it’s not just fellow citizens that attendees begin to understand more about. “One of the most common responses from the participating community is ‘I never understood how hard it was to make these decisions’."
Allegretti describes how Portuguese municipalities have set up a dialogue stream between their technical staff and the individuals behind the projects so they can work together to make them viable. This enables learning about the constraints faced by municipalities, adding another dimension to the notion of ‘perspective taking’. This also seeks to address and manage the potential sense of alienation for those whose proposals have been rejected.
- Read the full article community X-Factor or civic pedagogy?